Twins place Mauer on 10-day DL with concussion-like symptoms

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins lost a key member of their batting order Saturday as first baseman Joe Mauer was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a cervical strain and concussion-like symptoms.

The former American League MVP was pulled from Friday’s game in the fifth inning with what the team called “neck stiffness” stemming from a dive for a foul ball on May 11.

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Twins manager Paul Molitor revealed Saturday that Mauer was also experiencing balance issues and sensitivity to light the night prior, which contributed to his removal.

“We ran through the protocol last night,” said Molitor, “and there was no definitive answer there as far as what exactly is ongoing, but given his history … it looks to me like it’s gonna be at least a few days.”

Mauer suffered a concussion in 2013 that gave him lingering symptoms as he hit below .280 for three seasons in a row.

The 35-year-old batted .305 last season and was hitting .283 this year with a .404 on-base percentage. He recently recorded his 2,000th hit.

Mauer said Friday night he hoped to be in Saturday’s lineup, but his worsening symptoms concerned the team enough to send him home for a couple days to recover.

“I think it might take a day or two,” Mauer said Friday night of his neck stiffness. “Hopefully nothing more than that. I just think I have to let it calm down.”

The Twins have struggled offensively, losing four out of five games, scoring 2.6 runs per game in that span. Slugger Miguel Sano has been out of the lineup since April 27, and speedy Byron Buxton is hitting .087 since returning from the disabled list on May 10.

“Obviously (Mauer) wants to be a part of it, and you compound it with the other people that we’re missing,” said Molitor, “we’ve had trouble sustaining offense. And to take one of those guys in your lineup that you know is gonna give you good at-bats, as far as potentially finding ways on or getting a two-out hit, it makes it a little more challenging.”

Minnesota brought up outfielder Jake Cave to replace Mauer on the 25-man roster. Cave will make his MLB debut Saturday night, playing center field and batting seventh.